Archives director still on leave after ten months

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The top civil servant at the Bermuda Archives has yet to be reinstated after almost ten months on administrative leave — but the Cabinet Secretary won’t reveal if she’s still being paid her $144,000-a-year salary.

Donald Scott told The Royal Gazette he would not discuss “internal administrative matters relating to government officers” with the media, in response to questions about Karla Hayward’s employment and pay status.

Meanwhile, Ombudsman Arlene Brock suggests in her latest annual report that Government should have heeded her advice to have the director work on implementing public access to information (PATI) legislation rather than remaining in charge of Archives staff.

“Time has proven that had my recommendations ... been implemented, there would likely have been a more efficient, productive and dignified result,” she states.

Ms Brock launched an inquiry into the Archives in late 2008 after complaints from users, including that material was being withheld from the public for no reason by Ms Hayward.

This newspaper also revealed at the time that staff had filed grievances about the director with the Cabinet Secretary and complained of a “toxic” work environment.

The Ombudsman, in a special report published in July 2009, found evidence of maladministration at the official repository for government records and recommended Ms Hayward be moved to a less front line role.

She suggested the director concentrate on the “monumental task” of making sure government departments were trained to manage records for future archiving, especially in light of PATI.

In 2010, Ms Hayward was seconded to the Cabinet Office to help bring in the first phase of the PATI Act 2010 but it is understood the move was only for three months.

She returned to the Archives and, in September last year, staff voted by secret ballot to give 21 days’ notice of strike action if she was not removed from her post.

It was reported soon afterwards that long-standing civil servant Ms Hayward had been placed on administrative leave.

She is understood to be on pay scale 42, which attracts an annual salary of $144,320, according to the most recent Budget book.

Last week, The Royal Gazette called the Archives and was told by a staff member that Ms Hayward remained on administrative leave and Bermuda National Library director Joanne Brangman was still acting director in her absence.

Civil Service head Mr Scott, who is understood to be carrying out an inquiry into staff complaints against Ms Hayward, has refused to answer questions from this newspaper about her position or whether she is still on full pay.

In March, he did not respond to a request for information. Asked again twice in June, he replied via e-mail to say: “We have stated previously that internal administrative matters relating to government officers are not discussed with the media. That policy has not changed.”

Mr Scott didn’t respond to a request for information about Ms Hayward yesterday — but did say he would be able to provide a “brief update” today (Wednesday) on how the implementation of PATI, which is due to come into force this year, is progressing.

Ms Brock, in her 2011 annual report, commends the Archives for “giant steps in the last quarter of 2011 toward making its holdings more organised and accessible”.

She says following the release of her special report a shelf list was “substantially completed” and “significant progress” was made toward completion of an accessions register.

“[The shelf list] allows all staff to know exactly what is in the Archives and where,” writes the Ombudsman. “The shelf list also provides the baseline for future audits of the contents of the Archives.”

She adds that the updating of the accessions register, into which all items coming into the Archives must be recorded, “will be welcome news to researchers”.

The Ombudsman says her investigation has resulted in “important, although understated” improvements for researchers, particularly the ability to digitally photograph information.

She declined to comment further when asked to elaborate on her statement regarding her recommendation about PATI.

The Ministry of Government Estates and Information, which is responsible for the Archives, did not respond to a request for comment by press time last night.

Useful website: www.ombudsman.bm.

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Published Jul 11, 2012 at 8:47 am (Updated Jul 11, 2012 at 8:46 am)

Archives director still on leave after ten months

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